Bass Coast,

Joint winners announced as 2016 Bass Coast Citizens of the Year


Bass Coast Shire Council announced joint winners of the 2016 Bass Coast Citizens of the Year at the Australia Day Awards presentation tonight.

Allison O’Halloran from Dalyston and Trish Hogan from Harmers Haven were awarded Citizens of the Year and recognised for their efforts to save and revitalise the Bass Coast Boardriders Club, which was near defunct in 2013.

Bass Coast Mayor, Cr Jordan Crugnale, was also pleased to announce Inverloch’s Rebecca Slavin as the 2016 Bass Coast Young Citizen of the Year.

Having overcome a long battle with drug addiction and a history of domestic violence, Ms Slavin was recognised for her resilience, courage and leadership in presenting her story at community seminars on drug abuse and reaching out to others facing similar challenges.

Mayor, Cr Jordan Crugnale, congratulated all three women for their dedication and leadership.

“Congratulations to Allison, Trisha and Rebecca; together you are quite complimentary as when we talk about taking a village to raise a child and guide them well, your work and experience can help our young kids stay on track, know what support is out there, have someone to talk to outside of their immediate families,” Cr Crugnale said.

“Your work is invaluable to our community.”

The Mayor acknowledged all nominees for this year’s awards, and said it was wonderful to see the dedicated community members recognised.

“In my eyes you are all winners. Between you all, you cover so many interest groups and causes from the arts to sport to education, fundraising for cancer research, disaster relief, even equipment and training for your local organisations,” Cr Crugnale said.

“You all have this amazing ability to bring people together, to create an extended family with a shared interest and you raise that family to look out for each other, to connect socially, to help each other and be that voice to promote your chosen disciplines and fields of interest.

“I would like to thank all who took the time to submit nominations for the Awards and the Bass Coast Australia Day Committee members for assistance in judging the nominations, which is never an easy task!”

For more information on the winners and nominees, please see below.

Young Citizen of the Year 2016

Winner – Rebecca Slavin (Inverloch)

Rebecca has a unique story of resilience, courage and leadership in Bass Coast. Rebecca has a unique story of resilience, courage and leadership in Bass Coast. Battling drug addiction and (domestic) abuse, Rebecca realised her life was spiralling downhill and away from her.

In March 2014, she recognised her need for help and booked herself into a rehabilitation centre in Western Australia for 14 months. While away, she traced the root causes of her problems and developed the crucial skills to manage life’s challenges.

In 2015 Rebecca began presenting her story at community seminars on drug abuse and reaching out to local young people facing the same challenges. The impact of her story has caused other young people to seek the vital help they need. She has been asked to sit on the Latrobe Health Advisory Committee for Rehabilitation / Drug and Alcohol Problems.

Rebecca now works full time in Inverloch, enjoys her regular visits to the gym, and is studying for a Diploma in Community Services and Counselling.

Finalist – Nicholas Lawson (Inverloch)

Nick is known by his peers as someone who is always taking on leadership roles. He won the Bass Coast Young Leaders Award in 2010 when he was attending primary school, he was a student leader at Wonthaggi Secondary College in 2014 and 2015, and was also a sports captain for the school in 2014.

In recent years, Nick spent his free time involved in a wide range of clubs including the Wonthaggi Soccer Club, Newhaven Boys’ Singing Group, Inverloch Scout Group and Wonthaggi Theatrical Group – he’s played three lead roles on stage.

Perhaps most commendable is Nick’s volunteer work. He currently volunteers with Interchange Gippsland offering valuable support to young people with disabilities, and he participated in the Cancer Council’s Relay for Life for the past two years. In 2012, he and a friend organised a local fundraising night raising $2300 for the Leukaemia Foundation, and in 2013 Nick and friends organised a local concert raising $5500 for the Monash Children’s Cancer Centre.

Nick’s enthusiasm for life and willingness to help others is infectious and inspiring to those around him.

Citizen of the Year 2016

Joint Winners – Allison O’Halloran (Dalyston) and Trish Hogan (Harmers Haven)

When the Bass Coast Boardriders Club was nearly defunct in 2013, it was Allison and Trish who recognised the value this organisation served to the community, and the potential loss should it fold. Together these two friends took over the responsibilities and leadership of the club and turned it into a thriving entity that is focused on providing opportunities for local youth and safety to Bass Coast.

With dropping numbers and fewer community members accessing the sport of surfing, Alison and Trish made surfing more accessible to young people in a safe and inclusive environment. At the same time, they changed the focus of the club to fun and water safety, providing Bass Coast surfers with everyday life saver skills - an asset to the entire beach-going community.

In addition to building great relationships with our local youth, Allison and Trish have also rebuilt Bass Coast Boardriders’ relationship with surfing’s peak body, Surfing Victoria. Their combined commitment and enthusiasm for making things better for youth in Bass Coast is inspiring and infectious, and a marvellous example of what community contribution is all about.

Finalist - Neil Everitt (Inverloch)

Neil and his wife Rita moved to Inverloch in 1998 from Toora where they were given a public farewell for over 30 years’ service to the community. Looking at Neil’s involvement in the community of Inverloch since that time, it’s clear that community service is simply what he does continuously, wherever he is.

Some of Neil’s contributions include:

  • Founding member of Inverloch Lion’s Club

  • Inverloch Visitor Information Centre volunteer and volunteer driver of Bass Coast Shire Community Bus

  • Member of the South Gippsland Yacht Club “Wooden Dinghy Regatta” event committee

  • Steering committee member for the establishment of the Bendigo Community Bank in Inverloch

  • Inverloch Bowling Club, Board of Directors

And more…

In a nutshell, he is an organiser and a volunteer, a steward and an ambassador, a helping hand and an MC. He is known as a person you call upon when you need help of any kind.

Finalist – Jennifer Churchill (Kilcunda)

To summarise Jenny Churchill’s contributions to the Bass Coast community is a considerable challenge. Her passion for the community led to a career spanning 37 years in local government. Most inspiring is the community service and volunteer work she has done outside of this role.

Most notable are Jenny’s contributions as a Lifetime Member of the Wonthaggi Tennis Club, and Wonthaggi Theatrical Group, the Wonthaggi Netball Club, View Club as well as local arts and sporting groups, historical societies and service clubs. In 2007, she received an award from the Rotary Club of Wonthaggi for her sustained commitment to the community.

In 2009 Jenny overcame cancer and walked the Kokoda Track, which she has now done twice, also raising $8000 for bowel cancer research. Jenny is a well-respected member of this community, known for her friendly-nature, reliability, honesty and integrity. She has always been a quiet achiever and a source of inspiration and guidance.

Finalist - Alison Chapman (Inverloch)

Alison Chapman was born in Glen Alvie and grew up in Bass Coast. After a stint overseas and lecturing at Sydney University, she yearned to return to her home in Bass Coast. She has since made significant contributions to local arts through music and writing, and plays an ongoing role in our emergency services with the Inverloch VIC SES.

Alison is president of the Bass Coast Writers Group and has been a member for 10 years. In 2015, she edited the local writers’ anthology Ripples, and founded the Bass Coast Song Writing Group.

She is the treasurer and founding member of the Bass Coast Acoustic Music Club organising and promoting live acoustic music events across the region, as well as a founding member of the Bass Coast Pickers, an acoustic string band that is a regular feature and often plays pro bono for community events. After recent earthquakes in Nepal, Alison organised a charity concert with the Bass Coast Pickers and raised $3000 for a small village.

Alison is extremely dedicated and hard-working, committed to excellence and getting the job done, and never seeks accolades for her work. Her passion for Bass Coast shines through all her projects, and she promotes participation and involvement in the community in everything she does.